Why Aren’t We Talking About Disability and Sex?

Most young people spend a lot of time talking about sex with their mates. All sorts of sex in fact – the other sex, our sex, how much sex, good sex and bad sex. We’re quite prepared to be upfront about the fact we think talking about sex (and thinking about it too) is totally normal and completely healthy.

Then something came along which made me realise that there was one aspect of sex we didn’t ever talk about. That something was an Oscar nominated film performance from an actress called Helen Hunt. The film is called ‘The Sessions’ and it’s all about disability and sex. I realised that we haven’t been talking about disability and sex. The issue is being brushed under the carpet and that’s not healthy. I reckon it’s time to get talking.

THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT DISABLED PEOPLE GETTING SEX AT SCHOOL EITHER

Sex education at most schools school is usually only really focused on relationships between people who don’t have a disability. This can mean young people with a disability are not informed about sex and relationships. Think it through and you start to realise this can add up to the idea that sex isn’t for disabled people. Reflected in the views of wider society it becomes a taboo subject.

You’ve probably seen or at least heard of the Channel 4 programme ‘The Undateables’. It’s basically a dating show for people with disabilities. The show challenges the view that having a disability somehow makes you asexual or non-sexual. It shows that disabled people, as much as anyone, want to find a partner for sex, love and all the other stuff boys and girls (or boys and boys, and girls and girls) do together.

Some people are concerned that the programme exploits people in the show. Actually, the name of the show give’s the wrong impression and is rather exploitative. ‘Undateable’ in who’s views – who is to judge. Jumping to conclusions about exploitation can result in sexual rights being compromised, leaving people feeling as if they can’t, or have no right, to sexually express themselves.

THE GLEE OF SEX

As mentioned above sex and disability is topical with the release of ‘The Sessions’. It tells the true story of a man with a man paralysed from the neck down who uses a sex surrogate to lose his virginity. The film challenges the view that people with disabilities do not want to have physical relationships. The idea that people with disabilities don’t possess sexual desires means that these desires are overlooked.

The film shows a man overcoming his own insecurities and fighting for a right that he feels he deserves. The film has done a great job at getting people talking and bringing issues into the spotlight.

Sex and disability aren’t addressed together much in films and TV. But remember when Artie from Glee lost his virginity to the hot cheerleader? One of the things that he said was that he wasn’t even sure he could have sex after his accident. This is a common worry and one that may make people cautious of entering into a relationship in the first place.

WHAT IS A SEX SURROGATE?

A sex surrogate is not the same as a prostitute. Sexual surrogacy is based around therapy and involves attending a number of sessions over some months. A surrogate addresses psychological as well as physical issues.

People with physical disabilities who rely on a carer find it particularly hard to have sexual relationships. Often people’s carers are their parents, who may be overprotective making it even more difficult to express sexual desires.

On one hand this can result in feelings of isolation and even shame. However some parents who are carers pay for sexual surrogates for their children when they are old enough. It isn’t part of life that a parent expects to be involved in so it can be difficult. But being open about desires can avoid resentment as it acknowledges the validity of sexual feelings.

There are some agencies that are especially for this who find sex workers for disabled people. They work within the law, have been vetted and are used to working with people with disabilities.

IN THE NEWS – SUS-SEX

Back in March sex and disability were in the news when it was revealed that sex workers were being used in care homes in Sussex. The revelations had a mixed response. Some people are concerned that this opens the door to the possibility of exploitation. Others defend it, saying that the sexual surrogates are doing something that care workers are unable to, both morally and by law.

For some, using a sex worker and knowing that they can be intimate, can give the confidence that they need to be in a relationship with a more long-term partner. Learning that they have some physical sexual capability to back up their sexual desires raises their self-esteem.

Others may not want to use a sex worker and would prefer to wait until they are in a relationship. Going back to Glee, Artie was upset that he lost his virginity through ‘meaningless’ sex – albeit as an expression by a caring friend. He was excited to lose his virginity as he wasn’t sure he could have sex. After the encounter he was left wishing he had waited.

You can make your own mind up about whether first sexual encounters are always meaningful. However this reaction in itself is a reflection that people with disabilities experience the same worries about sex and love as anyone else.

SO, LET’S GET TALKING

There’s a lot to consider. Some have concerns that the use of sex workers could lead to abuse of vulnerable people. While sexual desires are important, exploitation is a concern. Although if you follow the thought that sex workers are themselves being exploited the question becomes who is exploiting whom.

For this reason it is important for there to be open and honest conversations about the issues. By doing this, disabled people can feel that any sexual desires they have are normal.

Half of the battle is making society more aware of the issues; this is first step to combating stigma on the subject.

Sex Education For Minors

Here is how it was when I was a kid. We learned about sex in school, in church, and of course, in our neighborhoods. Some kids had little comic books with hard-porn sex illustrations. I can only speak for the boys. I started to hear of sexual experiences from boys when I was in elementary school. Most of them were not true but we liked to hear them and live them vicariously.

We had little experience with girls but boys have an interest in girl’s anatomy when they are very young, barely out of kindergarten, and they will try to explore their interest perhaps asking a girl to show her private parts.

Masturbation was common, speaking only for the boys. Group masturbation or “speed” contests occurred. There were occasional homosexual acts. Some boys began having sexual intercourse when in their early teens. These were called, “bad kids.”

When I was about 12, my father took me on a 20 mile hike telling me about the birds and the bees. He mainly told me horror stories about masturbation. I really didn’t know what he was talking about. I was much more interested in the old pits used for catching black bears, the snakes, and the fact that my father knew all the wild flowers by name. The most interesting thing was his story about the bear trainer who was sparing with a black bear who took only one swing at the man. He was knocked out for several days, more like a week.

Later a doctor was brought to the church to talk to the boys about masturbation. To say the least, we all had a great interest in the subject. Again, I was one of the youngest boys and got into a fit of the giggles. So did a couple of other boys. It was all new to us!

I might add that not all boys took up masturbation, just most of them.

Some boys had wet dreams. These were often told in detail. One boy had a dream where his ROTC instructor was really a woman in disguise. That way his admiration for the instructor and his desire for sex were satisfied in one swell scoop.

Sex was “totally revealed” in junior high school and high school but not in the classroom. We were now associating with girls and we played such games as “Post Office.” We often mentioned the game “Pony Express,” which was said to be “Post Office with a little more horsing around.”

In “Spin the Bottle” or “Post Office” the reward was to go into a dark bedroom with a girl and receive a kiss. I don’t remember how the game of “Post Office” was played but I remember “Spin the Bottle,” a game we had played when we were tiny kids.

Some boys were now dating, Many of us were not.

So that is how we got our education. I remember a short morality lecture in my high school gym class, but that was it.

The fact of the matter is that we never had any in-depth sex education.

Sexual Codes

I don’t think that in nature there is a code of conduct in regard to sexuality. Other primates have their own ideas. Some are very promiscuous to prevent confrontations. Others are more discrete, the males vigorously guarding their harem. This occurs with many other animal species.

Young animals are not always safe from adult males. If a female will come into heat, or estrus, if her young are killed, the young are in grave danger. Male lions are known for this behavior. The reasoning given by those who study such critters is that they must spread their DNA quickly or lose the chance to other marauding males. I think they know nothing of such talk. They just want sex.

A Zulu chief once said that clothing led to promiscuity, not nudity. When everyone is nude, nobody has a question about the anatomy of males and females. Some male children are bathed with their mother when very young and know about her. But most children know little of the opposite sex’s anatomy.

Now days, because of television, children are exposed to nudity and sex. Actually, you can not see sex organs of a woman when she is nude. You see some pubic hair maybe, but not anything else. Television and movies until recently did not show the sex organs of men. Well, now you see that.

I suppose that hard porn leaves nothing to the imagination. That is something that I have stayed away from. Well, when I was a kid, a friend freshly home from the navy, showed me some pics he bought in the Philippians. Such images tend to stick in the mind.

Part of our problem is that we paint sex as wicked rather than as natural as scratching your nose. In some societies, teenagers are left to their whims, that is if we have not killed those societies off, they take off from the community and have sex. Fidelity comes only after marriage. Such societies simply face the facts and they don’t have our problems. Babies come and, in at least the Amazon, they come from the Man in the Moon. Nasty fellow!

Some societies think that a stranger needs food, water, warmth, shelter and sex. They are know to share their wives with guest. You must travel north to see that but is all existent in other societies. We call those “Primitive Societies.”

Some northern climes seem to promote sexual laxity.

I think that in most civilizedcommunities, sex education in schools is mandatory. Abstinence before marriage is often promoted and that works for many teenagers. The complaint here is that the emphasis may be “too much” on condoms and pregnancy prevention rather than local moral issues.

Here are my opinions for what they are worth:

Teaching in the Home

I asked my wife when she taught our children about modesty. She said when they start dressing themselves. In out society we often judge people by how they dress. We can teach our children to be modest and we can teach them about clothing and how it looks to others.

I asked her about how she taught other issues of sex to our children. She said that I taught the “hard stuff.” I told he that I couldn’t remember doing it but she said I did. It must have been during our Monday night family meetings when we taught a lesson, played games, and had refreshments. Based on that, I assume I taught the tenets of our church. So, maybe that is how you can teach your children at home. Spend on evening with them each week and teach them a lesson, have some fun, eat, and plan out the schedule for the week so everyone will know how the twins are getting to soccer practice and how Mary will get to her piano lesson.

I never taught any details of sex. We taught it belongs in marriaige and that is a binding force between couples and brings children into the home.

Teaching in Religious Organizations

If your religion has youth groups, that may be a good place to teach kids about ethics and moral conduct. Our church has the young men and young women separated most of the time. That leads to an opportunity to teaching specifics. One leader taught that the boys have a little “machine” inside them that brings on wet dreams occasionally and to leave it at that. One said that masturbation is stupid. The boys are not to masturbate but to be morally clean so they can represent the church throughout the world.

Teaching in Schools

I think sex topics should be taught early and often. In the early years, specifics of anatomy and reproduction could be taught. As children get older, they can be taught about sexually transmitted diseases such as was once taught in the military, the risks, the dangers, and prevention. The old military films showed some awful results of gonorrhea and syphilis. They showed male parts falling off and a soldier causing his wife to give birth to a blind child due to his gonorrhea. When I was in the army, the thinking was changed and replaced with morality training.

I think that sexual norms can be taught, helping students learn what is expected by them in society. Fidelity should be emphasized. Why? Because a person who is promiscuous before marriage may be apt to be unfaithful after marriage. That leads to much sorrow, legal problems, financial problems, and trauma to parents and children. This however, I understand, is not true in some parts of New Guinea. Fidelity usually works there despite premarital infidelity.

Premarital Counseling

I think a lot of misunderstanding and problems between newly weds could be removed by premarital counseling. Men can be very naive about a women, her needs, her concerns, and her anatomy. I realize that with time, things will come together but it would be better if these things were taught sooner. There are still many newly weds who are not experienced in sexual matters.

Unfortunately, there are many adults who have been married for some years who don’t know what should be going on. That is why we have so many sex clinics.

A knowledgeable family doctor can give good advice to brides and grooms.

Fly Old Glory!

Importance of Sex Education Among Teenagers

In many societies, people feel embarrassed while discussing sex. It has been associated for so long with unacceptable and dirty feelings. Embarrassment also comes from the mystery surrounding this whole act. Many religious preachers preach to abstain from sex and observe abstinence to attain salvation. But in societies where sex has been open and free, it is accepted much more easily as being normal and natural.

Many families do not feel its necessary to talk on this topic. They do not discuss it to their children and as a consequence children try to discover it through their own. Generally the teens learn the major part of this vital science from their friends who themselves are not well known of the complete fact.

Boys in their puberty enjoy looking at the picture of naked women. Generally boys and men can become sexually aroused when looking at picture of naked women in magazines, adult films and by having sexual fantasies. Sexual arousal is a pleasurable feeling. So they enjoy looking at such kind of things.

Many times boys and girl masturbate. It helps relieve some of the sexual tension that is an inevitable part of growing up. Both boys and girls get involved in this type of things. Boys masturbate more than girls because the penis is more accessible and they are more used to touching it.

Masturbation is not bad for health in anyway. But always remember that it should not become compulsive. Girls and women masturbate mostly with their hands, rubbing against the sensitive, clitoris at the top of the vulva. They may use a firm action over the whole vulva. Sometimes using one or more fingers to enter the vagina and imitate the rhythmic movement of intercourse.

There is no specific age when boys or girls suddenly become interested in sex. The way they feel about it, has a lot to do with the level of sex hormones which are estrogen in girl and testosterone in boy. Physical features directly involved in sexual behaviour and reproduction. The gonads (testes and ovaries) and the external sex organs (penis and vagina) are known as primary sex characteristics.

There are few terms like promiscuous and nymphomaniac. We will discuss these terms in brief. Promiscuity is a sexual behavior which denotes having physical relation with a variety of partners. But this does not apply to the girl who carries contraceptives. It is a wise step to keep contraceptives as she is accepting responsibility for her actions. She cares both for herself and her partners.

Nymphomaniac is a compulsive need for sexual stimulation and gratification in women, frequently leading to promiscuity or to masturbation performed several time a day. But in this case it simply means that she is young and healthy. But if a girl feels sexy for more than one boy at a time, it does not mean she is nymphomaniac.